Training Theory
Do you feel overwhelmed with all of the training methods available to you? Or do you take a “whatever works” approach? Operant conditioning is the form used most often.

light bulb iconPlease note as you read through the descriptions: The Ontario SPCA only employs Reward-Based Training methods (shown as green in the following poster) as they are the most humane methods available.

operant conditioning

  • Positive Reinforcement (Reward based): Simply add a meaningful reward (either praise or food) to encourage the desired behaviour. By applying or adding something pleasant, you increase the likelihood that a desired behaviour will occur again. There are many different techniques, including lure/reward and clicker/marker techniques. For example, if your dog lies down at your feet, you say “good dog, good down” and your dog’s tail begins thumping. He has been positively reinforced, with praise, for lying at your feet.
  • It is the act of taking away something the animal wants as a way to decrease undesirable behaviour.
  • Negative Punishment (Reward based): This is done by subtracting or removing something the animal wants which will result in a decrease in a specific undesirable behaviour. For example, if your kitten nips during playtime, and you walk away, removing something the kitten wants (your attention), she will begin to learn that nipping causes the end of playtime.
  • Negative Reinforcement (Aversive based): This is done by subtracting an unpleasant reinforcer. For example, pinching a dog’s toe (which causes discomfort to the dog) to get him to drop a toy, then when he drops the toy, the pinch is removed.
  • Positive Punishment (Aversive based): This is accomplished by adding a punishment that is unpleasant to the animal. Examples include the use of force or physical punishment, such as adding pressure to a prong collar to control the dog or using physical force.

light bulb iconAgain, the Ontario SPCA only employs Reward-Based Training methods as they are the most humane methods available.

light bulb icon stop sign iconThe Ontario SPCA does not employ Aversive-Based Training methods.

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